Planning our Thailand, Phuket-Bangkok trip of seven days.

We are posing here with fellow South Africans, Erica and Warren. 

We decided to visit Phuket in Thailand as a 60th birthday gift for Basil, my husband and as a 21st birthday celebration for Sasha,our daughter. We were super excited about our Phuket Island trip but we also needed to consider our shoestring budget. Another factor was that we only had ten days because of both my and Basil's work commitments and Sasha's university programme.  Two of those days had to be reserved for our roundtrip flight Phuket-Cape Town.  It is vital that you do your research so that your holiday is fabulous and financially stress-free. Here are a few pointers that guided us.

You must know what your budget is for your flight and accommodation. 

Given that we only had seven days for the actual holiday, I did a lot of research to ensure that we maximised our visit to Phuket. Many travel agencies offer competitive holiday packages to Phuket. Despite the advertised holiday packaged deals, you will invariably be asked what your budget is. For example, we wanted to travel from Cape Town and were happy with 3-star hotel accommodation that was clean and reasonably close to Bangla Road, but far enough from the hustle and bustle of this tourist haven. We then settled for Sunset Beach hotel, a 3-star hotel that has a shuttle service to and from Bangla Road throughout the day.

Before you make approach travel agencies, you need to ensure that you have the funds available to make the booking immediately. Many airlines allow the agencies to hold a provisional booking for 24 hours. You can save on flight fares in this way. We chose to book via Flight Centre because they were the first travel agency to respond to my online query and the communication by travel agent, Chichi, was excellent. As part of the arrangements, we had our shuttle service for our round trip from Phuket International Airport included as well.

You may want to consider additional travel insurance.

If you pay for your flight tickets by credit card, you automatically qualify for travel insurance but it does not cover every eventuality. It is best to study the insurance policy and then decide if you need additional/top-up cover. This top-up insurance can be arranged with your bank or with the travel agency you are dealing with.

It costs about R3,000 for the three of us with cover of R100m for the ten days of travel. This may sound like a lot of money, but we wanted peace of mind to know that everything was catered for in the worst case scenario.

The Baht bus in Phuket

Transport costs to move around in Thailand

You will have transport costs as you move around in Phuket. Try to calculate how much travelling you will be doing as you visit various sights and go for various experiences. For example, we decided to fly to Bangkok for a day and a half visit.  We needed to  pay for our local flights and overnight accommodation in Bangkok. After researching, I booked our flights on Nok Air and booked with Air bnb for an overnight stay with a Thai family.  We also had to factor in our airport shuttle service costs for the round trip.

There are various transport modes for example, private taxi's, tuk-tuks and the local bus service that you can use in Phuket.  We used a combination of these forms of transport.

We used the hotel's shuttle service to the Bangla Road area. Here the taxi's and tuk-tuks are plentiful and you will be approached by them all the time.  In this area, near Jungceylon shopping mall or at the other end of Bangla Road where Patong Beach is, you can catch the Patong Baht bus.

We used the Patong Bus to travel to Phuket old Town for our visit to the town. We paid 60 baht for a round trip per person.  When we were in Phuket Town, we were approached by a Tuk-tuk driver who offered to take us around town - on our terms- for 100 baht for three hours. We hired a private taxi to take us to the Elephant Trekking and the Trickeye Museum at a cost of 400 baht round trip.

Chao Phraya river in Bangkok - see Wat Arun in the background

Budget for tours and experiences

You need to know what you want to see and use these core activities to help you maximise your time in Phuket. Of course, you need to be flexible and change your plans if something more interesting crops up or as in our case, my family was hit by food poisoning. We had to adjust our Bangkok itinerary because Basil and Sasha were confined to bed on our first day in Bangkok. And, most of the temples and Grand Palace were closed to the public because preparations were being made for the King's funeral over the weekend of 25-27 October.

Tuk-tuk in Bangkok
These were the core activities of our trip. In  Phuket, we planned to spend time at Bangla Road during the day and at night, having a lazy beach day, visiting Old Phuket Town, Trickeye Museum, Elephant Trekking, massages, visiting shopping malls and shopping.

In Bangkok, we wanted to live in a local neighbourhood with a Thai family, visit Wat Pho and Wat Arun, do ferry trips, do a trip down the Chao Praya river, visit a floating market, visit Khao San Road and have a meal where locals meet and eat (Golden Mountain). We also wanted to travel via their local bus service.

You also need to budget for your shopping sprees and your food.

You can get an idea of costs by doing your research on the internet. For example, the elephant trekking costs about 900 baht for a 30 minute ride. This cost excludes the food ( small, overripe bananas in a small container for 100 baht), the 100 baht your elephant driver will charge you for taking photos of you and the sales he wants to make selling beaded jewellery!

Having a budget helps to keep you level headed because you do get caught up in the Thai magic and everything looks alluring and seems to be calling your name!

 Watch out for the follow up posts that will provide more tips and highlights of our trip.

Was this information useful? Let me know what you would love to see posted as well by dropping a comment below.

See you soon....


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